From High Tech To Text Neck

neck pain from texting Text neck syndrome is an increase in the overuse of neck muscles causing neck pain due to our computers becoming more high tech and a whole lot smaller. If you are an avid user of any of your hand-held mobile devices and are experiencing neck pain of late, perhaps you, too, are suffering from text neck.

With the advances in technology, desktop computers are now longer our only option. Thus, cases that involve eye strain or neck and shoulder pain due to poor posture while sitting up in front of a computer have downsized as our computer gadgets have ‘down-sized’. Hand-held devices and gadgets now are more portable and much smaller. Case in point: mobile devices namely smart phones, portable gaming devices, MP3 players, e-readers, tablets, etc.

These electronic devices we have today are almost always the size of our hands and actually one of neck pain causes, thus text neck. Text neck is especially the experience of those who contort themselves into highly unnatural positions as they use their hand-held devices.

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Text Neck Definition

Florida chiropractor Dean Fishman coined the term ‘text neck.’ Dr. Fishman also founded the Text Neck Institute. Text Neck™, according to Dr. Fishman is: “an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury, where you have your head hung forward and down looking at your mobile device for extended periods of time…This is a global epidemic not just from texting, but from using all sorts of wireless media.”

When you text or read from a handheld device, more often than not, the head is tilted forward. The head is actually around 10 to 12 pounds, and as it tilts forward, the neck muscles tend to flex to carry the head’s weight. Truth be told, every inch you move you head forward from its natural standpoint, its weight increases by 100%. That said, the more you extend your neck, the heavier the weight it has to bear.

Text Neck Symptoms

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As mentioned above, if you experience text neck, you experience neck soreness and tightness, and you actually also get headaches. If you leave it untreated for a stretch of time, chances are, you’ll develop an inflammation and permanent arthritic damage along with an increased abnormal curvature of the spine. This can occur even more so with young ones since they have naturally larger heads in relation to the body size as compared to adults.

So, the symptoms of text neck include headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, and even compromised breathing.

Recent studies have confirmed that there is a link between the amount of text messages sent every day and the pain felt. Those who had more text messages sent experienced greater discomfort.

Avoiding Text Neck

Just like any other injuries that involve cyclic or repetitive movement, you can prevent it from happening if you take frequent breaks and bring your neck back to its natural position. Whenever you text or read from the mobile device that you have, instead of looking down, just try to occasionally bring the device upward so it is aligned with your eyes.  Dr. Fishman has developed a mobile app that you can install to help you align your mobile device to the right angle. That way, you can prevent text neck from occurring.

Check out this video for more information on text neck:

Jobs High Risk for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Jobs High Risk for Neck and Shoulder PainEven to this day the impact of neck and shoulder pain continues to be astounding. Many jobs have placed workers at a greater risk for this condition. You may be surprised on how broad the list of high risk jobs is going to be. If you are just one of those suffering from a work-related neck or shoulder injury, you know how the pain affects your job performance.

A Risky Path to Take

To know what jobs are at risk, work-safety and health professionals have investigated certain occupational factors, especially the work environment. It has been known that too much physical work, heavy lifting, non-stop bending and twisting, bad work posture and sitting or standing for a long period of time places these workers at risk for having neck and shoulder pain.

Two occupations for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Two occupations at the top of the list are construction workers and nurses. People having these two career paths have a greater possibility to experience work-related injuries, specifically pain in the neck or shoulder regions.

Sadly, workers don’t place a priority on how they can prevent this condition from affecting them since they dread that they will lose the job. As a result, they typically don’t take breaks and time off.

Do You Belong to Any of These Careers?

  • Nurses and Nursing Home Caregivers

As the elderly population begins to rise, there have been a growing number of nursing homes and job prospects for nurses. Nursing home caregivers and nurses are at risk not only for back pain but for neck and shoulder pain as well, resulting from transferring, lifting, carrying, and turning patients.

  • Construction Workers

People who work at construction sites spend most of their time doing repeated bending, carrying and pulling. These repetitive activities can result in neck injuries where pain in the neck area is common. According to research, almost 30% of workers missed their jobs because of neck strain. 

  • Surgeons and Dentists

These medical professions require long hours of standing, bending and uncomfortable body positioning. The work of surgeons and dentists is not only physically taxing but it can be mentally stressful, diverting their awareness away from bad body posture that results in neck pain or shoulder pain. 

  • Retail Workers

Store and grocery employees are required to stand in one place for 8 hours or more. Lifting heavy grocery bags can cause neck or shoulder pain when poor body mechanics are used. 

These are just some of the careers at risk for neck and shoulder injuries.  

The following are basic ergonomics steps for people at risk for job-related neck or shoulder pain. 

Ergonomic Tips for Workers Who Stand for Long Hours

For retail workers or store personnel, the following tips may be helpful in preventing neck pain at work.

  • Stand straight. Keeping your body in a neutral and proper alignment.
  • Stretch often and change position regularly. 

Ergonomic Tips for Workers Whose Job Requires Lifting

  • When lifting, bend your knees, not your back.
  • Keep your body aligned and not twisted when lifting.
  • Stretch your neck, back and arms often.
  • Stand up and walk for a minute or two every hour. 

Ergonomic Techniques to Avoid Neck and Shoulder Pain

You may not be able to change your career, but there are ergonomic techniques that you can take to avoid neck and shoulder pain from affecting you and your job.  

If you begin to suffer job-related neck or shoulder pain, report it and seek medical help early.

Cervical Stenosis

cervical stenosisCervical stenosis is a major cause of neck and shoulder pain specifically in older people. Some people are born with cervical stenosis and other cases include people above 50 years old who are suffering the effect of the wearing and tearing of the spine.

CERVICAL STENOSIS

Stenosis is a term used to describe the narrowing of the canal that guards the spinal cord and the nerves in it. Stenosis in the neck affects the arms, shoulders and hands. Cervical stenosis is also caused by certain conditions such as a rupture of the spinal disc, which is the spongy part of the vertebrae that prevents friction between two vertebrae.

Cervical stenosis causes neck pain which may radiate to other areas like the hands and arms. When you are suffering from this condition, you may feel numbness and weakness of the lower extremities as well.

DIAGNOSING CERVICAL STENOSIS

Getting the correct diagnosis is important to ensure the right treatment. The diagnostic process usually includes taking your medical history, a physical examination and diagnostic tests.

When you see the doctor for the first time, your medical history will be recorded. You may be asked questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to determine if it is severe or not, questions on what treatments you have tried and if you have had any trauma or injuries.

Next the doctor will do a physical examination to check for restricted movements and pain. The doctor will check your extremities for weakness, loss of reflexes and sensation.

Diagnostic tests are usually the next step. X-rays would be taken to rule out any problems like infections or tumor growth. To get a clear picture of the cervical spine, doctors would also prefer CT or MRI scans for a 3D view.

A myelogram, which involves the injection of dye along with x-rays may be done to the spinal column to determine if there is pressure or blockage.

One of the primary symptoms of cervical stenosis is neck and shoulder pain. If the pain starts to become worse, you should seek medical care. To evaluate the urgency, consider the following:

  • For simple injuries like a bruise or strain, it does not require immediate attention,
  • For a continuous pain in the neck and shoulders, an immediate evaluation of a health care provider is needed.
  • It is advisable to go to the nearest emergency department if there is a stern and aggravating pain, numbness, weakness, malformation, color changes and coolness. This indicates that there is restricted amount of blood supply in a certain area.

If you are ever in any doubt, always call either your doctor or the nearest emergency room.

TREATMENTS FOR CERVICAL STENOSIS

Treatments for this condition fall under two categories– conservative treatment and surgical treatment.

For conservative treatment, the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medications is advised. The use of a cervical collar depends on the extent of the injury and the nerves involved in the damage.

Others may be instructed to restrict their activities to prevent further damage to the nerves. Physical therapy is also prescribed to keep the neck strong and stabilized.

Surgical treatment for cervical stenosis is typically de-compressive laminectomy where the laminae are removed to provide more space for the nerves.

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